Griffith: Trinidad and Tobago needs to be on alert amidst Guyana/Venezuela tensions

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Gary Griffith – SUREASH CHOLAI

Former national security minister and police commissioner Gary Griffith believes Trinidad and Tobago needs to increase its state of alertness amidst growing tensions between Guyana and Venezuela over the resource-rich Essequibo region. In a statement on Friday, Griffith, now National Transformation Alliance (NTA) leader, said TT is caught in the middle, on the very precipice, of the potential for further conflict between Venezuela and Guyana. He said the implications of potential conflict between the two South American countries has implications for TT which requires a “clear, direct and robust form of readiness, in whatever form required to shore up our own national security parameters.

“He slammed the Prime Minister for what he said is a lack of a definitive statement as chair of the National Security Council on clear measures to protect TT.

“To be clear we at the NTA are not saying that we must pick a fight. However there is something as a chair of a National Security Council, one would expect precise measures to be put in place to ensure our own sense of security.

“He said there is a concept of an alert state which can be used in situations like these. “An alert state means that you put in some degree of systematic approach to ensure co-ordination, monitoring, because today it is Guyana, tomorrow it could be us. This alert state moves from green to amber to red to black. And based on the escalation of the threat, the alert state will increase, which will guide both the various arms of protective services as well as the population to know what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, and when it needs to be done.

“He criticised the Prime Minister for what he called other failures, such as the Air Guard not having any aircraft, for leaving six Damen vessels to fall into disrepair over the last eight years, and leaving the National Operations Centre debilitated.

Asked if he believes TT is now vulnerable, given these statements, Griffith said: “I wouldn’t say a vulnerable state, but what we need is to intensify and increase our alert state.” That was why he said in his release, while the country hopes and prays for the best, it must also prepare for the worst. “I ask each and every member of the public, regardless of your political affiliation: We must call upon the chair of the National Security Council to step up and advise on the clear actions being taken to shore up TT’s security networks. And if he’s unable to adhere to his obligations, then he should step down.”